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U.S.: Legalized Marijuana Would Be Eliminated Under A Christie Presidency


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Sunday promised to eliminate legalized marijuana in states like Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska if he's elected president.

The rotund Republican, speaking on CBS' "Face The Nation," said his administration would use federal law outlawing marijuana to crack down on states that have legalized recreational cannabis use, reports Matt Arco of NJ Advance Media.

"Yes sir," Christie replied to host John Dickerson when asked if he'd go after Colorado and Washington for legalized marijuana.

"If you were President would you return the federal prosecutions in the states of Colorado, Washington state?" Dickerson asked. "Yes," Christie answered.

"So, if somebody's enjoying that now in their state, if you're President, that's getting turned off?" Dickerson pressed. "Correct," Christie responded.

The Obama Administration hasn't punished states which have legalized marijuana, nor has it forced them to roll back the initiatives that voters approved.

Christie, on the other hand, has been a vocal critic of cannabis legalization; ignoring science, he claims it's a "gateway drug."

Photo of Gov. Chris Christie: Startraksphoto.com/New York Post

New Jersey: Governor Refuses To Help Suffering Children With Medical Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's cold-hearted refusal to allow sick children in his state safe access to medical marijuana was the subject of a blistering editorial inMonday's Star-Ledger.

"The issue of edible marijuana in New Jersey comes down to an irrefutable premise: The governor of this state has had numerous chances to liberate children from suffering over the last 18 months, yet he has chosen not to do it," wrote the Star-Ledger Editorial Board.

"Chris Christie seems content to live with this disgrace," the board wrote. "At one time, he summoned the audacity by looking into the faces of inconsolable parents and chirping the dim-bulb refrain, 'It's complicated,' and now he merely dismisses a law that he signed himself and hopes that nobody notices."

The op-ed unsparingly points out that two years after Vivian Wilson's parents were forced to move to Colorado for the sake of their toddler's health, there is still no workable edible marijuana program for New Jersey's needlessly suffering children -- "because Christie's administration doesn't prioritize compassion."

Pennsylvania: Philly Becoming America's Largest City To Decriminalize Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Mayor Michael Nutter and City Councilman James Kenney have reached a compromise on a bill which will make Philadelphia the largest city in America to decriminalize marijuana.

People caught with fewer than 30 grams of marijuana, just over an ounce, would only be issued a citation and fined $25 under the plan, reports Chris Hepp at Philly.com. They would face no criminal charge or arrest.

The compromise calls for a separate offense and penalty for public use of cannabis. Those caught using marijuana in public would be charged with a noncriminal summary offense, and would face a $100 fine or up to nine hours of community service, according to Kenney.

The compromise ends a conflict between Councilman Kenney and Mayor Nutter which began following the Philadelphia City Council's 13-to-3 vote in June to pass Kenney's marijuana decrim bill.

Kenney argued that cannabis arrests are disproportionately affecting African Americans. Philly police arrested 4,336 people for marijuana possession last year, 83 percent of them black.

But Mayor Nutter called the legislation "simplistic" and declined to immediately sign it. This week, with the deadline for his signature approaching, Kenney and and mayor began meeting to work out a compromise.

U.S.: Senators To Introduce Groundbreaking Criminal Justice Reform Bill


REDEEM Act Helps Formerly Incarcerated Seal Conviction Records, Eliminates Barriers to Employment, Public Assistance, and Re-Entry

Drug Policy Alliance: Criminal Justice Reform is Good Policy and Good Politics

Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rand Paul (R-KY) on Tuesday will introduce the REDEEM Act, groundbreaking bipartisan legislation that makes it easier for formerly incarcerated individuals to reintegrate into society and provides greater rights to juvenile offenders.

The amendment comes on the heels of an amendment offered several weeks ago by Senators Booker and Paul that would prohibit the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from arresting and prosecuting people in compliance with their state medical marijuana laws. Senator Paul also has a bill with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that would provide federal judges more discretion in sentencing.

A bipartisan bill reforming mandatory minimums introduced by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) has already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and is awaiting floor action.

“The fact that two young and rising stars of both parties, both rumored to be considering future White House runs, are so passionately embracing criminal justice reform shows how politically popular these issues have become,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Voters want reform and smart elected officials know that. This legislation is good policy and good politics.”

New Jersey: Gov. Christie Says Medical Marijuana 'A Front For Legalization'


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

If there was any doubt in anyone's mind about just how ignorant New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is when it comes to medicinal cannabis, the big guy has put those doubts to rest. Following reports that patient enrollment in the state's medical marijuana program is low (due largely to his own foot-dragging and ineffective implementation), Christie called the New Jersey program and others like it across the nation "a front for legalization."

The New Jersey Legislature passed the state's medical marijuana law back in 2009, and former Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, signed it just before he left office. The Christie Administration, since then, has been notably slow in implementing the program; the first dispensary didn't open until December 2012, reports Brent Johnson at The Star-Ledger.

Only 2,342 patients have signed up for New Jersey's medical marijuana program, after initial predictions had estimated tens of thousands of patients might be helped. Last week, the president and CEO of Compassionate Care Foundation, Inc., in Egg Harbor -- one of only three operational dispensaries in the state -- announced he is quitting because, he said, he couldn't keep working for no pay.

New Jersey: Patients Cheer Opening of State's Third Medical Marijuana Dispensary


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Jersey’s medical marijuana program has suffered from numerous delays. There were controversies over the state’s vetting process, over the lack of traditional bank financing, over the reluctance of doctors to participate, and over the unwillingness of many local officials to host a dispensary in their town. But the state's third medical marijuana access point, Garden State Dispensary, finally opened on Wednesday.

The facility occupies an old electronics store between shopping centers and a car dealership in Woodbridge, reports Susan K. Livio at The Star-Ledger. Wednesday's grand opening was largely ceremonial; the owners and staff had a "soft opening" on November 22, according to Yale Galanter, the dispensary's lawyer and spokesman.

From the trial launch through 4 p.m. on Wednesday, 430 patients had bought medical marijuana from Garden State Dispensary, according to Galanter. Starting on Thursday, the shop will serve 40 patients a day, he said.

Michael Weisser, Garden State's Florida-based chief operating officer, also runs eight medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado along with his son, David. He said his goal was to serve all 1,500 of New Jersey's medical marijuana patients, many of whom have waited more than a year for safe access.

New Jersey: Youngest Medical Marijuana Patient, 2, Finally Gets Her Turn


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Jersey's youngest medical marijuana patient, two-and-a-half-year-old Vivian Wilson, left the Compassionate Care Foundation medicinal cannabis dispensary Monday in a stroller, holding a stuffed toy dog, with her parents Brian and Meghan Wilson of Scotch Plains.

It was a moment to remember for the dispensary, which finally opened on Monday, nearly four years after the state passed its medical marijuana law, reports Susan K. Livio at The Star-Ledger. It was perhaps an even more important moment for the Wilsons and for other families with critically ill children in New Jersey.

Monday marked the first time a New Jersey family was able to buy the form of marijuana that in other states has helped quell the severe seizures that have stunted Vivian Wilson's development, and could take her life. Vivian has a rare and dangerous form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome, and conventional medicine just hasn't helped much.

New Jersey: Guy With Marijuana Butt-Dials Cops By Accident; Talks About His Weed


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

On July 5, police got a call from a cell phone in Florham Park, New Jersey. The accidental caller could be heard in the background, discussing marijuana, according to the cops.

Officers Brian Mensing and Kevin Langereis responded to the address, knocked on a door and heard a man say "the cops are here," according to a Louis C. Hochman at NJ.com.

They then saw a man later identified as Andrew Macfarlane, 22, pick up some items off a table and walk towards the rear of the home, officers said.

They kept knocking on the door, and Macfarlane finally answered it, letting them come in, according to the cops.

Macfarlane told the officers he had "butt dialed" 911 by mistake, police said.

The cops saw what they claimed looked like "marijuana residue" on the table; they investigated further and found the items Macfarlane had just removed from the table: A small bag of suspected marijuana, a cannabis grinder, and a pipe, according to officers.

Macfarlane was arrested, taken to the police station, and charged with possession of under 50 grams of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to the police.

New Jersey: N.J. Weedman Publishes Legal Motion To Help People Busted For Pot Possession

(Photo: Martin Griff/The Times)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Longtime cannabis advocate Ed Forchion, the N.J. Weedman, has turned his attention to the marijuana laws themselves. Forchion, a Pembertown Township resident, has posted a 12-page legal motion online which he said can be used by anyone arrested for marijuana possession in New Jersey.

"I'm tired of being a one-man gang," Forchion said, reports Mike Davis at The Times of Trenton, N.J. "I've been arguing these arguments for years. I'm just putting it out there. I don't care who does it, but let's get it done."

Forchion filed the brief in response to his most recent bust, after two Evesham, N.J., police officers found two joints on him after a vehicle stop on April 15.

"It's just like taking aspirin or Motrin," Forchion said. "I've got three joints with me right now. This could happen to me every day. I just about always have something on me."

Forchion argues that his arrest -- and all cannabis arrests since January 18, 2010 -- should be declared null and void.

That's because former N.J. Gov. Jon Corzine on that date signed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act into law. The Act allows patients with specific serious illnesses to register with the state, and to buy cannabis from one of six allowed dispensaries (only one of which is open so far).

New Jersey: George Washington Bridge Guard Caught Smoking Pot On The Job

(Photo: New York Daily News)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A security guard at the George Washington Bridge (which spans the Hudson River, between New York and New Jersey) was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly smoking marijuana on the job.

Sami Omar, 26, of North Bergen, New Jersey, is an employee of FJC Security, a private company that contracts with the Port Authority, authority spokesman Steve Coleman said, reports Dan Ivers of NJ.com.

Port Authority Officer Kevin Hart was reportedly conducting regular post inspections at around 2 p.m. when he smelled "a strong odor of marijuana" coming from the book in which Omar was working. When questioned by Hart, Omar replied that "there must have been a skunk nearby," Coleman said. (Nice try, Omar.)

Omar, whose job is to watch for suicide jumpers and terror attacks, allegedly sprayed aerosol inside the booth in an attempt to mask the cannabis smell.

Hart searched the area, finding a half-smoked blunt and a small bag of weed.

Omar was arrested and charged with possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and being under the influence of a "controlled dangerous substance."

The Port Authority called Omar's conduct "intolerable" and said it would review its security policies.

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